New Tool Analyzes How Prepared World Is For An Epidemic. Spoiler Alert: It’s Not.
The new website aims to help public officials recognize where vulnerabilities exist. In other public health news: heart research, predicting falls, lead paint, addiction, obesity and more.
The Washington Post:
How Prepared Is The World For The Next Epidemic? This Tool Shows Most Countries Are Not.
Public health officials and business leaders like Bill Gates have long warned that the world is not ready for the next pandemic. Now an initiative led by Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has developed a tool that spotlights gaps in preparedness, and actions that countries and organizations can take to close them. The new website, PreventEpidemics.org, gives an individual score to each country and uses color codes to rank the world by five levels of preparedness. (Sun, 6/21)
‘Living Legos’ Form Blood Vessels To Simulate Heart Disease And Test Drugs
In the field of tissue engineering, many scientists grow cells in sheets, or use an artificial scaffold to give shape and structure to the cells. But Marsha Rolle, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and some colleagues are developing a more modular approach, in a process she compares to both building blocks and baking pans. Rolle chose this approach to build both a more accurate model of healthy blood vessels as well as damaged ones, hoping to learn more about cardiovascular diseases and whether drugs will effectively treat them. (Cooney, 6/22)
AI Hospital Software Knows Who’s Going To Fall
Falls are dangerous and costly. According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 700,000 to 1 million hospitalized patients fall each year. More than one-third of those falls result in injuries, including fractures and head trauma. The average cost per patient for an injury caused by a single fall is more than $30,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2015, medical costs for falls in the U.S. totaled more than $50 billion. Like most other U.S. hospitals, El Camino had invested time and money in fall prevention efforts, such as the call lights, but the various methods hadn’t been effective enough. The parameters for at-risk patients are wide enough that many are tagged as likely to fall at some point. It’s even harder if a hospital has a bigger share of high-risk patients as El Camino does—about 50 percent of its patients are at risk for falls. Effectively monitoring that many people can be tough when nurses are already overworked. (Ockerman, 6/21)
HUD Is Failing To Protect Children From Lead Paint Poisoning, Audits Find
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development failed to protect hundreds of thousands of children living in subsidized housing from potential exposure to lead paint and lead poisoning, according to a pair of recent federal reports. The reports describe a hodgepodge reporting system within HUD, as well as disjointed communication between the federal agency and the local housing authorities it oversees. (Parker, 6/22)
The Associated Press:
Demi Lovato Sings About Addiction Struggles On ‘Sober’
Demi Lovato celebrated six years of sobriety in March, but her new song indicates she may no longer be sober. The pop star released “Sober “ on YouTube on Thursday, singing lyrics like: “Momma, I’m so sorry I’m not sober anymore/And daddy please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor.” Lovato tweeted a link to the song with the words “My truth.” The singer-actress struggled with an eating disorder, self-mutilation and other issues, entering rehab in 2010. She has spoken out about her battles with drugs and alcohol over the years, and she’s become a role model for young women and men who have faced their own issues. (6/21)
The New York Times:
Obesity Rates Higher In Country Than City
Obesity is more common in rural areas than in cities in the United States, two new studies have found. The two analyses, one of adults and the other of children, used data on weight, height and where people lived that was gathered in a series of nationally representative surveys from 2001 to 2016. They were published online together in JAMA. (Bakalar, 6/21)
Dallas Morning News:
She Drank Live Viruses For Two Weeks. It Worked
For five years, Patti Swearingen battled an infection that refused to go away. Doctors prescribed round after round of antibiotics, but the infection kept coming back. Eventually, the microscopic war inside her body left Swearingen so weak and debilitated she could barely leave her living room couch. In March, she and her husband Gary decided that modern drugs had failed them. Instead, they turned to a treatment from the past. As reported in The Dallas Morning News and on KXAS-TV (NBC5), they flew 6,500 miles to a small clinic in Tbilisi, Georgia. There, doctors had her drink live viruses twice a day for two weeks. Now Swearingen’s medical records confirm the outcome: She is cured. (Kuchment and Castro, 6/21)
DNA Snippet Once Called 'Junk' Found To Drive The Development Of Embryos
One of the enduring mysteries of biology is why so much of the DNA in our chromosomes appears to be simply junk. In fact, about half of the human genome consists of repetitive bits of DNA that cut and paste themselves randomly into our chromosomes, with no obvious purpose. A study published Thursday finds that some of these snippets may actually play a vital role in the development of embryos. (Harris, 6/21)
Nonstick Chemicals Can Really Stick Around – In Your Body
For decades, American consumers have been buying water-resistant packaging and clothing, stain-resistant carpets and Teflon cookware. Now there is growing alarm that the chemical components that give those products their appeal are ending up in the water supply. Drinking water in 33 states from New Jersey to California has been tainted by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly referred to as PFAS. Now they are also showing up in human blood: A 2015 study found PFAS in 97 percent of blood samples tested. (Beitsch, 6/22)